Date of Birth: 3228 BCE
Location: Mathura: Uttar Pradesh
Current Believers: Approx. 1,000,000
Krishna (/ˈkrɪʃnə/, pronounced [ˈkr̩ʂɳɐ] (listen); Sanskrit: कृष्ण, IAST: Kṛṣṇa) is a major deity in Hinduism. He is worshipped as the eighth avatar of Vishnu and also as the supreme God in his own right. He is the god of protection, compassion, tenderness, and love and is one of the most popular and widely revered among Indian divinities. Krishna's birthday is celebrated every year by Hindus on Krishna Janmashtami according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar, which falls in late August or early September of the Gregorian calendar.
KRISHNA's BELIEF in THE AFTERLIFE
Lord Krishna says death both exists and doesn’t exist.
Bhagavad Gita straddles the two worlds of the absolute and the relative. Krishna speaks transcendent truths but applies them in the temporal, mundane world. This is the role of a guru. He must reveal what is beyond sense perception but through the medium of sense perception. He must explain what reality is, using what is not reality.
Krishna says that for the soul there is neither birth nor death. (BG. 2.20) Obviously, for matter, there is no death because it’s not alive. So the soul doesn’t die, and matter doesn’t die, and there are only these two energies in the material world (BG 7.4–5), so what is death?
Krishna talks about death in many verses and says He is the one behind it.
I am also death personified. Bg 9.19
Among the dispensers of law I am Yama, the lord of death. Bg 10.29
I am all-devouring death, Bg 10.34
So those who are disturbed by the thought of a genocidal God should be really paranoid about Krishna because He says He’s responsible for wiping out every living thing that is ever born.
But from Krishna’s point of view, no one ever dies. Death refers to the soul leaving this body. Nothing actually does die, but we call the soul leaving the body ‘death’, and as we know, that happens all the time. So Krishna says there’s no such thing as death, but then He deals with what we call death and doesn’t hide the fact that He is behind it.
He puts a lot of importance on it so we can understand it’s not something to view from a distance with a shrug. “Well everyone’s gotta die so why worry about it?”
Krishna says we should worry about it because whatever happens after we die is determined by what we did before we died and what we remember at the time of death. He says it’s inevitable so there’s no escape and based on this alone Krishna says the material world is a miserable place. A lot of people miss this point until they are facing imminent death, (sometimes theirs and sometimes other’s) and only then do they realize that death is a problem. They would rather the person didn’t pull the trigger or press the button or do whatever is going to kill them or a member of their family or nation. But however it comes, it’s not possible to avoid death, so Krishna says because of that, the material world is a miserable place. Of course, if it’s the only place you know about, then a blind uncle is better than no uncle, but if there’s an option to live in a place where no one dies, (not just today, but ever) then obviously our world doesn’t appear so attractive.
So Krishna says that even though there is no such thing as death, we are caught in a world where we are brainwashed by material nature into believing we will die. So we believe it. But Krishna says that an intelligent person will get free from this brainwashing by maya, and escape the illusion of birth and death.
Intelligent persons who are endeavoring for liberation from old age and death take refuge in Me in devotional service. They are actually Brahman because they entirely know everything about transcendental activities. Bg 7.29
However, those who don’t do this, and study the Vedas for sense gratification, even if they adhere to the principles of the three Vedas can’t get free from samsara.
Those who study the Vedas and drink the soma juice, seeking the heavenly planets, worship Me indirectly. Purified of sinful reactions, they take birth on the pious, heavenly planet of Indra, where they enjoy godly delights. Bg 9.20
When they have thus enjoyed vast heavenly sense pleasure and the results of their pious activities are exhausted, they return to this mortal planet again. Thus those who seek sense enjoyment by adhering to the principles of the three Vedas achieve only repeated birth and death. Bg 9.21
In chapter 8 Krishna talks a lot about death and dying.
Bg 8.5 - And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.
Bg 8.6 - Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kunti, that state he will attain without fail.
Krishna recommends remembering Him alone and in this way escaping from the realm of birth and death, and going to His realm of immortality. And whatever comes in your mind when you are leaving your body, determines your next state.
So what comes in a person’s mind when they are about to lose all their respectability and good name? What does a person rush for when their house is on fire and the family is asleep inside? What does a person fear when a friend comes and says “I am sorry I have some bad news.” What does a parent with children who are away from home think when the phone rings at 1.30am?
Immediately our mind goes to what is dear to us, what we are most attached to, what we don’t want any harm to come to. So the time of death is when we are separated from everything that is dear to us. All that we are attached to is disappearing forever. All that we have worked for is going. All those we love are going to be gone. What are we going to think about? Of course, we are going to remember all the things dear to us, isn’t it?
That’s why devotion to Krishna is the only solution. Unless we have attachment and feeling for Krishna, how will we remember Him when everything is falling apart? Knowing He is God and wonderful is nice, but what comes in our mind when we are being separated from everything we love and have worked for in life? Those things we are most attached to.
Prabhupada has suggested:
My dear Krishna, please remind me to always chant Your Holy Name, please do not put me into forgetfulness. You are sitting within me as Supersoul, so you can put me into forgetfulness or into remembering You. So please do not put me into forgetfulness. Please always remind me to chant, even You send me into hell, it doesn't matter, just so long as I can always chant Hare Krishna.
This is a wonderful approach. It is humble, dependent, submissive, helpless & surrendered and yet hopeful. This kind of attitude is not much use in the material world, but it’s very attractive to Krishna, it comes from a feeling of devotion and Krishna will never let His devotee perish. It’s the best we can do in the face of the inevitable.